Thursday, June 19, 2008

Airline Pilot Speaks Out On Flight Delays

Pilot Patrick Smith explains why the airline industry is on overload--and how you can make flying a little friendlier.

Last year, 8,852 flights were stranded on the tarmac for more than 2 hours.

Source: Department of Transportation

Unfortunately, the government insists that security theater, and not actual security, is in the nation's best interest. If it makes you feel any better, our crew had to endure the same screening as the passengers. Never mind that the baggage loaders, cleaners, caterers, and refuelers receive only occasional random screening. You can rest easy knowing that I do not have a pair of scissors or an oversize shampoo bottle anywhere in my carry-on luggage.

Just a moment.

Okay, well, as expected, we've received word of a ground stop. Our new estimated departure time is 90 minutes from now, subject to change arbitrarily, without warning.

And while we're waiting, let me explain that these sorts of delays (and it's not your imagination -- late arrivals and departures have doubled since 1995) result not only from our antiquated air traffic control system but also from too many planes flying into and out of overcrowded airports. Passengers demand frequency-you want lots of flights flying to lots of cities. But this can be self-defeating, because many of these flights will be late -- in some cases, very late. At airports near major cities like New York and Washington, D.C., the proliferation of small jets has added to the congestion. They make up nearly 50 percent of planes at some of our busiest airports yet carry only a fraction of overall passengers. This inefficient use of air and ground space is one reason we will be sitting here for the next hour and a half.

Once we're airborne, flight attendants will be coming around with food and beverages for sale. I know many of you are irritated that an in-flight meal now costs $7 -- on top of the $25 you just paid for an extra checked bag. Unfortunately, with oil prices skyrocketing and jets requiring as much fuel as ever (a coast-to-coast flight takes 8,000 gallons), it's impossible for us to provide luxurious service and rock-bottom fares at the same time. We know that most of you are miserable and that you long ago learned to despise every aspect of air travel. But try, if you can, not to take your frustrations out on other passengers or the crew. The overall surly vibe is unpleasant for us too. And ridiculous as this might sound, look on the bright side.

Yes, there is a bright side: more choices and surprisingly reasonable fares. Domestically, you can now fly between almost any two airports in the country with, at worst, a single stopover. Internationally, transoceanic routes have fragmented, allowing people to fly direct from smaller hubs in the United States to points in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere. Nobody enjoys holding patterns or sitting on a tarmac, but in earlier days, the overall journey would have taken longer-and cost more.

It's true that fares have risen sharply of late, but if they seem especially pricey, that's partly because they remained so cheap for so long, with many carriers selling tickets below cost. Fares in 2006 were averaging 12 percent lower than in 2000, despite a 150 percent rise in jet-fuel costs.

Current fares cost about what they did in the 1980s. And let's not forget that flying is much safer than it was in the past. Globally, there are twice as many planes carrying twice as many people as there were a quarter century ago. Although the raw total of crashes has risen, accidents are way down as a percentage of total flights.

I am well aware that airlines have become pariahs of the postindustrial economy. But it's rarely acknowledged that despite recurrent fiscal crises, major staffing and technology problems, and constant criticism from the public, our carriers have managed to maintain a mostly reliable, affordable, and safe transportation system.

Hang in there, and our crew will let you know if and when our plane might actually take off. In the meantime, those $7 sandwiches are actually pretty good.

Original here

Big breakfast 'aids weight loss'

The easy way to lose weight?

Breakfast really could be the most important meal of the day when it comes to losing weight, claims a researcher.

Over several months, obese women who ate half their daily calories first thing fared better than those eating a much smaller amount.

US researcher Dr Daniela Jakubowicz told a San Francisco conference having a small breakfast could actually boost food cravings.

A UK expert said a big breakfast diet might simply be less boring.

It could be that it is simply easier for people on a higher-carbohydrate diet to comply with it over a longer period
Dr Alex Johnstone
Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen

Dr Jakubowicz, from Virginia Commonwealth University, has been recommending a hearty breakfast to her patients for 15 years.

She tested it against a low carbohydrate diet in a study of 96 obese and physically inactive women.

This diet involved 1,085 calories a day - the majority of these coming from protein and fat.

Breakfast here was the smallest meal of the day - just 290 calories, with just seven grams of carbohydrates.

Her "big breakfast" diet involved more calories - 1,240 - with a lower proportion of fat and more carbohydrates and protein.

Breakfast here was 610 calories, with 58 grams of carbohydrates, while lunch and dinner were 395 and 235 calories respectively.

Four months on, the low-carb dieters appeared to be doing better, losing an average of 28 pounds to the 23 shed on the "big breakfast" diet.

However, after eight months, the situation had reversed, with the low-carb dieters putting an average of 18 of those pounds back on, while the big breakfasters continued to lose weight, on average 16.5 pounds each.

They lost a fifth of their total body weight on average, compared with less than 5% for the low-carb dieters.

Slower metabolism

Dr Jakubowicz reported that the big breakfasters said they felt less hungry, particularly in the mornings.

She said: "Most weight loss studies have determined that a very low carbohydrate diet is not a good method to reduce weight.

"It exacerbates the craving for carbohydrates and slows metabolism - as a result, after a short period of weight loss, there is a quick return to obesity."

She said that the bigger breakfast helped by making people feel fuller during the day, and was healthier, because it allowed more fibre and fruit to be included.

Dr Alex Johnstone, from the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, said that other studies had shown that while low-carb diets were a "good tool" to reduce weight quickly, they were not a "diet for life".

She said that the regaining of lost weight by these dieters could be more a sign of the relative monotony of the two diets, rather than their ability to necessarily reduce cravings.

"It could be that it is simply easier for people on a higher-carbohydrate diet to comply with it over a longer period."

A spokesman for the British Nutrition Foundation said there was evidence that a good-sized breakfast could help dieters.

She said: "Research shows that eating breakfast can actually help people control their weight.

"This is probably because when we don't have breakfast we're more likely to get hungry before lunch and snack on foods that are high in fat and sugar, such as biscuits, doughnuts or pastries."

Original here

Lower Testosterone In Men Can Lead To Earlier Death

The findings back previous evidence that some men could benefit from 'testosterone replacement therapy' - the equivalent of hormone replacement therapy in women.

Testosterone deficiency becomes more common with age, occurring in 18 per cent of 70-year-olds who have andropause, sometimes called the male menopause.

A study of nearly 2,000 men aged 20 to 79 years presented to The Endocrine Society's 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco adds to the scientific evidence linking deficiency of this sex hormone with reduced life expectancy, or increased death from all causes over time-so-called "all-cause mortality."

Overall, men with low testosterone levels had more than 2.5 times greater risk of dying during the next 10 years compared with men who had higher testosterone, the study found, backing earlier studies.

The men with low testosterone were older, more obese, and had a greater prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, compared with men who had higher testosterone levels, said lead author Dr Robin Haring, from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald, Institute for Community Medicine. "It is very possible that lifestyle determines levels of testosterone," he said.

Low testosterone levels are linked to the metabolic syndrome - a cluster of metabolic risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes - and other health problems, including loss of bone and muscle mass, depression, and decreased libido.

In other work presented to the meeting by Prof Farid Saad of Bayer Schering Pharma, who has done research with Dr Ahmad Haider, they show that restoring normal levels in testosterone-deficient men led to major and progressive improvements in features of the metabolic syndrome.

Furthermore, men older than 63 benefited as much as younger men, they found. Treatment lasted a year and used a slow-release, injectable form of the hormone.

All 95 men in the studies (ages 34 to 69 years) had the metabolic syndrome. The first study showed that testosterone treatment significantly reduced waist circumference, ("bad") cholesterol, fats (triglycerides), and body mass index (a measure of body fat). Treatment also increased "good" cholesterol. Improvements were progressive over 12 months, indicating that benefits may continue past a year, Prof Saad said.

In the second study, the researchers divided the patient population into three groups by age: less than 57 years, 57 to 63 years, and more than 63 years.

They found that the oldest men had similar improvements in metabolic risk factors to the youngest men. "We conclude that if elderly men have a deficiency of testosterone, it is worthwhile to treat them with testosterone," he said.

As for side effects, he said that the risks are minor if levels are in the natural range seen in healthy men. Although it is not thought to trigger the cancer, it can aggravate existing prostate cancer. "It is very important to exclude any suspicion of prostate cancer before you start any treatment," he said.

The hormone also affects red blood cell formation, which helps treat anaemia and fatigue in men with low testosterone levels, though can increase blood thickness that puts men who may already have early heart disease at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Original here

Claim Over Red Cross Symbol Is Settled

The American Red Cross and Johnson & Johnson, the health care conglomerate, announced Tuesday that they had settled a longstanding dispute over use of the Red Cross trademark.

The two sides announced the settlement a month after Judge Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan threw out much of J.& J.’s trademark claim against the relief organization.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but according to a statement, it includes an agreement that both parties will continue to use the symbol — a Greek red cross on a white background.

Johnson & Johnson sued the Red Cross last August, claiming that the organization’s decision to use the Red Cross symbol on products sold in stores was a violation of a longstanding arrangement. Under that arrangement, the company had used the trademark commercially on products like Band-Aids while the Red Cross used it as a symbol of its disaster relief mission.

But beginning in 2004, the Red Cross started licensing the symbol to other companies for use on commercial items sold in stores as part of the organization’s fund-raising program. J.& J. argued that the organization had promised not to engage in certain commercial activity, according to court papers.

Judge Rakoff, however, ruled that a Congressional charter gave the Red Cross the right to use the symbol even for business purposes.

In a statement, J.& J.’s chief executive, William C. Weldon, said the company “brought the lawsuit very reluctantly only to protect what we believed are important trademark issues.”

Original here

One-third of people shot by Taser need medical attention: probe

About one in three people shot with a Taser by the RCMP receive injuries that require medical attention, according to a joint investigation by CBC News/Radio-Canada and the Canadian Press.

'If there is injury and illness, as a physician, I would have to say those people, even if they are accused criminals, should be taken care of.'— Dr. Paul Dorian, cardiologist

The media outlets, which analyzed the Taser-use forms RCMP officers are required to fill out if they draw a stun gun, examined reports from 2002 to 2007. According to the data, 28 per cent, or 910 of the 3,226 people who were shot, had to go to a medical facility.

But a detailed examination of the forms revealed that many more people are injured, yet never see a doctor.

In three years worth of reports obtained under Access to Information legislation, people suffered injuries including burns, puncture wounds from the probes, and head wounds from falling. In many cases, however, the person was not taken for medical treatment.

More recent forms had the sections on injuries blacked out. The investigation suggests some of those incidents resulted in injuries that are not included in the 28 per cent figure.

For example, in one incident report, a person shot with a Taser suffered "burn marks from touch stun mode" but was not examined at a medical facility.

In another example, a person suffered "multiple skin burns where Taser came into contact with subject while fighting with police" but he was not taken to be examined.

RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner Paul Kennedy noted this failure in an interim report last fall on stun gun use by the force.

Dr. Paul Dorian, a cardiologist and a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, said police officers need to assume they may hurt someone when they use a Taser and treat all injuries seriously.

He conducted a study on pigs on the effects on the heart of Taser shocks and found multiple hits with a stun gun can cause heart stress.

"If there is injury and illness, as a physician, I would have to say those people, even if they are accused criminals, should be taken care of," he said.

Police association wants all officers to have Tasers

The Canadian Police Association stands by stun gun use. President Tony Cannavino said the association would like to see every police officer in Canada armed with a Taser and that there is enough evidence to show that Tasers save lives.

"They have to get the proper training, and also not only the proper training, there should be consistency across Canada about the training and the fact that they should also be requalified every two years."

The CBC investigation into Taser use has also found that RCMP officers are likely to fire their electronic stun guns multiple times during an altercation, despite a policy that warns it may pose health risks.

Kennedy is scheduled to release a highly anticipated final report on the use of stun guns by Mounties on Wednesday. He was to release it last week, but that was delayed until this Wednesday at the request of Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.

The delay reportedly resulted from a last-minute call late Wednesday from the minister's office requesting a meeting with Kennedy.

Original here

Nanotechnology, Biomolecules And Light Unite To 'Cook' Cancer Cells

Researchers used monoclonal antibodies that targeted specific sites on lymphoma cells to coat tiny structures called carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are very small cylinders of graphite carbon that heat up when exposed to near-infrared light. (Credit: Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers are testing a new way to kill cancer cells selectively by attaching cancer-seeking antibodies to tiny carbon tubes that heat up when exposed to near-infrared light.

Biomedical scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center and nanotechnology experts from UT Dallas describe their experiments in a study available online and in an upcoming print issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists are able to use biological molecules called monoclonal antibodies that bind to cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies can work alone or can be attached to powerful anti-cancer drugs, radionuclides or toxins to deliver a deadly payload to cancer cells.

In this study, the researchers used monoclonal antibodies that targeted specific sites on lymphoma cells to coat tiny structures called carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are very small cylinders of graphite carbon that heat up when exposed to near-infrared light. This type of light, invisible to the human eye, is used in TV remote controls to switch channels and is detected by night-vision goggles. Near-infrared light can penetrate human tissue up to about 1½ inches.

In cultures of cancerous lymphoma cells, the antibody-coated nanotubes attached to the cells' surfaces. When the targeted cells were then exposed to near-infrared light, the nanotubes heated up, generating enough heat to essentially "cook" the cells and kill them. Nanotubes coated with an unrelated antibody neither bound to nor killed the tumor cells.

"Using near-infrared light for the induction of hyperthermia is particularly attractive because living tissues do not strongly absorb radiation in this range," said Dr. Ellen Vitetta, director of the Cancer Immunobiology Center at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. "Once the carbon nanotubes have bound to the tumor cells, an external source of near-infrared light can be used to safely penetrate normal tissues and kill the tumor cells.

"Demonstrating this specific killing was the objective of this study. We have worked with targeted therapies for many years, and even when this degree of specificity can be demonstrated in a laboratory dish, there are many hurdles to translating these new therapies into clinical studies. We're just beginning to test this in mice, and although there is no guarantee it will work, we are optimistic."

The use of carbon nanotubes to destroy cancer cells with heat is being explored by several research groups, but the new study is the first to show that both the antibody and the carbon nanotubes retained their physical properties and their functional abilities -- binding to and killing only the targeted cells. This was true even when the antibody-nanotube complex was placed in a setting designed to mimic conditions inside the human body.

Biomedical applications of nanoparticles are increasingly attracting the attention of basic and clinical scientists. There are, however, challenges to successfully developing nanomedical reagents. One is the potential that a new nanomaterial may damage healthy cells and organisms. This requires that the effects of nanomedical reagents on cells and organisms be thoroughly studied to determine whether the reagents are inherently toxic.

"There are rational approaches to detecting and minimizing the potential for nonspecific toxicity of the nanoparticles developed in our studies," said Dr. Rockford Draper, leader of the team from UT Dallas and a professor of molecular and cell biology.

Other researchers from UT Southwestern involved in the research were lead authors Pavitra Chakravarty, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, and Dr. Radu Marches, assistant professor in the Cancer Immunobiology Center. Authors from UT Dallas' Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute were Dr. Inga Musselman, Dr. Paul Pantano and graduate student Pooja Bajaj. Two undergraduate students in UT Southwestern's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program -- Austin Swafford from UT Dallas and Neil Zimmerman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- also participated.

The research was supported by the Cancer Immunobiology Center at UT Southwestern, the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the Department of Defense and the Center for Applied Biology at UT Dallas.

Dr. Vitetta is a co-inventor on a patent describing the techniques outlined in the study.

Original here

You Say Recession, I Say Opportunity

By: Kate Carter (Little_personView Profile)

Economic woes have many of us wondering how much further our house values will plunge, how low the stock market will dive, and how high gas and food prices will continue to soar. Yet there is an optimistic refrain spiraling around—maybe this financial comeuppance will teach Americans a valuable lesson about living healthier, smarter, and within our means.

Americans live fast—we eat in restaurants, we use microwaves, and we purchase prepared food. We don’t have meals together as a family as often as we used to. We drive cars in order to get to our destinations as quickly as possible, and we cheat ourselves in the sleep department so that we can squeeze in extra television, work, and house chores.

The good news is this: we can change. Take a look at some of the trends in America and ways we can reverse them for a healthier, happier, and cheaper lifestyle.

1) Food

Photo source: VirtualErn on flickr (cc)

Take these statistics. According to a 2005 CBS Poll, 63 percent of American households with children under eighteen reported that they have dinner together five or more days each week. Compare that with 67 percent of Americans in 1990. Sixty-eight percent of American families making more than $50,000 ate at least one meal out during the week, and 17 percent of all families reported having fast food for dinner two to three nights during the week.

Eating out is far more expensive than eating in. See this article on The Simple Dollar that details why it is still cheaper to buy groceries and cook, even when considering a $1 cheeseburger from McDonalds.

On a health note (and lord knows America’s scale-tipping is startling: 31 percent of us are obese, and 63 percent of us are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics), it is widely accepted that home-cooked meals are healthier than restaurant-prepared meals. In general, Americans use higher quality ingredients and fewer fatty ingredients when in their own kitchens. A restaurant’s grilled chicken sandwich with a side of pasta salad might seem reasonably healthy, but you never know what hidden oils, mayonnaise, butter and other artery-clogging—albeit scrumptious—ingredients are added.

Solution: Think about the reasons you like to eat out and see if you can incorporate some of those elements into home-cooked meals. If it’s ambience, adorn your table with some candles and cut a few fresh flowers from your yard (even weeds can be beautiful). If it’s time constraints, stop to think about how long it really takes you to drive to the restaurant, order and eat, and then find recipes that take only fifteen or thirty minutes of preparation time. If it’s taste, there are loads of yummy, easy recipes you can find online—for free. You’ll spend more quality time with your family, eat healthier, and save money.

2) Entertainment

Photo source: johannesfreund on flickr (cc)

Have we forgotten about libraries? Board games? Staycations? Creative outlets that don’t require a credit card? According to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends $2,376 annually on entertainment. That breaks down to almost $100 per month.

I’m personally guilty of spending too much on entertainment and not being sufficiently creative or resourceful. I frequent the bookstore every time I want a new book, instead of heading over to the very convenient—and free—public library in my neighborhood. (According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spent $55.5 billion purchasing books in 2007.)

I pay $70 for cable each month despite the fact that my family collectively watches only a few hours of TV a week (and sometimes even less). I drive my gas-guzzling car (and pay the high price) to go see movies instead of watching the ones that are already on my TV, thanks to cable, for no extra cost. I think of going on vacation as flying to an appropriately exotic destination and paying for a hotel, when I’m missing inexpensive and fun activities right here in my own city.

Solution: Don’t buy that Plasma TV. Instead, invest in a game of Scrabble and Monopoly, for a grand total of $14.99.

Join the library! Check out this Web site for a listing of every public library in the United States—you won’t believe how many things you can do for free at the public library. If you have kids, public libraries are a goldmine for time squandering (in a good way) with activities like storytime, puppet shows, and arts and crafts.

On the weekends, you can discover the free treasures your city has to offer. Many cities have museums, botanical gardens, parks, and festivals you can spend hours exploring.

3) Sleep

Photo source: Mayr on flickr (cc)

According to a USA Today story, Americans average 6.5 hours of sleep each night—down from 7.5 in the 1950s, and lower than the seven to eight hours needed by most adults. When we’re not sleeping, we’re surfing the Internet, checking work emails, and watching TV. We’re also spending more money.

Of course, if you look back at the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder and before (she did, after all, use a lantern to complete her homework after sundown), people were much more likely to go to bed when the sun set and wake up when the sun rose—which is almost ten hours of sleep during June in many places in the U.S.

Solution: Try going to bed earlier and letting yourself wake up naturally, without the jarring ring of the alarm clock. Even though you’ll feel like you haven’t squeezed enough relaxation time between the end of your workday and when you go to bed, you’ll start waking up earlier, feeling better, and ready to tackle the next day more efficiently. If you reset your internal clock to get more sleep on an earlier cycle, you’ll even be less likely to binge on fatty foods. Check out this MSNBC article detailing the links between sleep deprivation and weight gain.

Let’s challenge the theory that you have to spend money to have fun and live a meaningful life. Take the next month and try to prepare your own foods, eat with your family, devise fun and cheap ways to entertain yourself, and actually go to sleep when you get tired. If we can destroy the connection between spending money and spending time, life could get a heck of a lot more interesting.

Original here

Bartenders are overly generous, study shows

The standard size for alcoholic drinks is 5 ounces for wine, 12 ounces for beer and 1.5 ounces for spirits. Using those formulas, consumers should be able to monitor their alcoholic intake, right? Fat chance.

A new study shows that alcoholic drinks served in bars and restaurants are often larger than the standard size and contain more alcohol. The study, published online this week in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, examined 480 drinks poured in 80 establishments in 10 Northern California counties. The average glass of wine was 43% larger than standard, and the average mixed drink was 42% larger. The average draft beer was 22% larger. The authors, from the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute, also found that the alcohol content varied widely in drinks. Those who think they have had four drinks may, in fact, have had six, they noted.

Nationwide, there is a big effort to take the mystery out of alcoholic drinks. Health groups have been battling the federal government over a proposal to label packaged alcohol products with information on nutrition and alcohol content, similar to the labels that are affixed to packaged foods. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has proposed a rule that would require "Serving Facts" on the labels of wine, beer and distilled spirits but would leave out information about alcohol content. A coalition of 30 health groups opposes the rule, saying that alcohol content per standard serving should also be included on labels.

"Today, even the most basic information about alcohol beverages is not provided on the labels of most alcohol beverage products," said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, in a recent statement.

For a look at what constitutes "standard" in alcoholic drinks, click here.

- Shari Roan

Original here

How to Find Passion in Your Job

Photo by Kara Pecknold

Are you in a stage of loving your life so much that you would pay money to live it? If not? What can you do about it? A common question asked is, “I really want to feel that way, but I’m just not passionate about anything. How do I find passion?”

A friend of mine asked me that question a few weeks ago. He has a high paying job and what appears to lead a full and fulfilling life, complete with volunteering and interesting hobbies. But he felt that something was still missing. He was looking for his purpose and genuinely wanted to find his passion. “I like a lot of things, but I don’t have any passions. How can I find passion, Tina?” This is a great question, and one that got me pondering about the topic. This article specifically looks at finding passion in your job.

This is part two of my notes from Professor Srikumar Rao’s google talk, along with my personal thoughts on the topic. You can find part one here: How to Make Profound and Lasting Change.

The Problem

Most of us make the mistake of assuming that our ideal job is out there somewhere, and we have to go out and find it. We tell ourselves that our lives will be great, just as soon as we find it. As a result, we end up defining our ideal job using a widely accepted, but arbitrary, set of parameters. How much the job pays, job title on your business card, type of person our boss is, size of our office, how much we get to travel. We say in our minds, once I can find that, then I can be passionate about my job. Chances are, that job probably doesn’t exist. Assuming that it did exist and we were put into that situation, within a few months, we will probably be back in the same state we are now. Unsatisfied.

The Secret to Passion

Passion do not exist in the job, it exists within us. Either we find it in us right where we are, or we will never find it. Only within us, can the passions of our soul shine through. The best place to start igniting that passion, is where you are, right now.

The beautiful thing is that if you ignite passion within you from where you are, the external world has a miraculous and magnificent way of rearranging itself to suit the new person you are becoming.

The Unhappiness Spiral

Every time we are unhappy with what we are doing, or we feel frustrated, angry or disappointed, two things are always true:

  1. We are concentrating exclusively on the two or three things that are wrong with the job. We ignore the 30 or 40 things that are pretty good about it.
  2. We are living completely in a Me Centered Universe. We tell ourselves, “Oh, poor me. Poor me. How unfair this situation is.” We start to view our lives as if everything existed as to make things more difficult for us. We focus entirely on how the world affects us. It is impossible to live a truly fulfilled life if we are living exclusively in a Me Centered Universe.

Exercise: How to Find Passion in Your Job

We all have the innate power to transform ourselves and our life situations for the better. Most of the time, it is as simple as a shift in our perspective. The following is an exercise to help us get out of that space consumed with negativity about our present situation. The exercise is tailored to finding passion in your job, but it really applies to every area of life.

  1. Take a notebook with you at all times.
  2. Systematically noting down things that are pretty darn good about your job. Things you enjoy. Things you are grateful for. Co-workers you like.
  3. Take one thing from this list that is important to you and significant to the company. Come up with a simple one month project where you will be increasing that component in your daily life. Example, if you work with a few pleasant customers, then the project could be: how to get more customers like that? Or, how to get our current customers to be like that? Or, how to get more work with those pleasant customers?
  4. Do something every day to help you accomplish your projects goal. It’s best to do this in the morning as a priority item, but anytime during the day will give you a boost.
  5. Evaluate your progress at the end of the month. Give yourself more time if you need.

Through actively practicing the exercise above, you will discover that there is an enormous amount that is great about your job and your present situation. The act of noting down the things you like, will take you to a different space. If you continue with points 3-5 consistently, by the end of the year, you will have completed as many as 6 projects that are important to you and are significant to the company.

This exercise forces you change what you focus on, which changes your perspective and outlook. You will find that you are no longer in the job you dreaded, your entire professional life has changed and your ideal job has grown around you. Recognize that you were the creator of that ideal job and the creator for this positive space you are currently living in.

Parting Words

Sometimes, we spend so much of our free time thinking about how much we dislike our current situation that we forget that what we repeat in our heads becomes our reality. The more we repeat that story, the more we reinforce that story. As we reinforce the story, we identify with it and it changes your perspective. What we often do not realize is that these stories we tell ourselves are hurting us. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is to recognize that we are not our stories, and to becoming aware of when our mind chatter starts telling these stories.

We are never as stuck as we think. We are never as ‘incompetent’ as we think. We are never as insecure as our minds have us believe. Practice being the observer to your mind, thoughts and stories.

Original here

Co-workers who drive you crazy

By Rachel Zupek
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

Editor's note: has a business partnership with, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to

For many people, bad habits are unconscious.


Does he know that his obnoxious cell phone talking is driving you nuts? Experts say to address the issue quickly.

John might not realize that clipping his fingernails in the lunchroom is repulsive.

Suzy is clueless that coffee was not made to be slurped, and Ed doesn't know that showering only three times per week is unhygienic (and stinky!).

Let's be honest: Nobody's perfect; not even you. Results from a recent MSN Zogby data poll show that 20 percent of workers say their co-workers have at least one habit that drives them crazy.

So while your co-worker might have a more obvious bothersome tendency (like always talking on speakerphone), maybe your constant complaining about everyone else's behaviors has the same effect.

In fact, 15 percent of workers agreed their co-workers' constant complaining drives them crazy, and 13 percent say colleagues passing off their work is frustrating, according to the poll. Other irritants included gossip, talking too much and eating smelly food.

"You really only have one option when it comes to being annoyed by a fellow employee," says Donna Flagg, president of The Krysalis Group, a business and management consulting firm in New York City. "Simply let your co-worker know how you feel and politely ask them if they would mind curtailing their annoying habit."

Johanna Rothman, author of "Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management," says to nip the situation in the bud as soon as possible.

"The sooner you address an issue you have with a co-worker, the more likely you are to be willing to work with the other person to resolve the issue," she says. "The longer the issue exists, the more you tend to be resentful of it."

We asked our readers to tell us what drives them nuts about their co-workers. Here are a few of the most aggravating habits we found:

• "I have an employee who is a Packers fan; I am a Bears fan. Every once in a while, I receive an e-mail that varies from photos of Brett Favre or just plain text that says, 'PACK.' It drives me nuts, and I have to pretend it doesn't bother me one bit." -- Gini D.*

• "Sharing an office with somebody who just cruises the Web all day long and adds no value to client work." -- Andy B.

• "I have a co-worker who doesn't bathe nor wash her clothes and subsequently smells. I bought a bottle of Febreeze, which I frequently spray on the fabric-covered chairs and carpet. She also drinks beverages and regularly spills or leaves coffee rings on the console or computer and doesn't bother to clean it up; so I also bought a bottle of Windex cleaner and brought in rags to clean up the messes before I do my shift.

In addition, she throws away her used tissues and often misses the garbage can, leaving them on the floor for "whomever" to pick them up. She NEVER misses work, so whenever she is sick, she coughs all over the microphone, uses the computer mouse and presses the buttons with her germy hands; so I bought a container of Antiseptic wipes to wipe down the console and mics to try to prevent illness. Her office should be condemned." -- Karen W.

• "I have a co-worker who I've worked with for more than 10 years. She slurps her coffee -- all day. I'm not sure if she just loves coffee so much that she can't wait for it to cool or what, but she dives in and sluuuuurrrpps every drink until it's gone. It drives me crazy." -- Corinne Z.

• "I had an employee who used to scratch her back using her ruler. Sometimes she'd stare at her cube mates. My colleagues would come and tell me this, and I wouldn't have a clue how to deal with it. We both quickly realized this company wasn't a good fit for her and she left a couple of months later. To this day, some of my former colleagues remind me of my back-scratching and staring employee and wonder what happened to basic etiquette." -- Megy K.

• "So, I sit next to this crazy woman. She talks to herself out loud as if someone is going to join in her conversation, which they don't. Anytime a co-worker comes to my desk to ask a question, or just to chat, she feels the need to interrupt my conversation and make it about her every time.

She eavesdrops on other co-workers if they have an issue with their own work; she complains about the light over her desk being too bright and made another co-worker loosen the bulb above her desk so it's not 'shining right on her head.'

Whenever people go away for lunch, and God forbid they leave their phones on, she will put their phone on 'Do Not Disturb,' which means their call will go straight to voicemail. That actually affects the people that get urgent phone calls. They don't know they are getting calls because their phones aren't ringing. We are in the travel business and during our busy season, time is of the essence. I don't want to see her get fired, but at least have her moved -- like to the basement!" -- Tracey F.

Todd Dewett, a motivational speaker and management professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, offers the following tips for how to deal with co-workers' bothersome behaviors.

• Ask yourself if the behavior is better described as controlled or a recurring pattern. Many a conflict starts because one annoying behavior created an ugly reaction. Save the ugly reactions for behaviors that are clearly a recurring pattern. Only then will they be honest threats to morale and productivity as opposed to simple annoyances.

• Check yourself. Many times you feel annoyed and others agree with you -- but not always. You want to know how widely your view is held. If you speak quietly and tactfully with a few relevant others and verify your view, consider proceeding. Otherwise, just let it slide and ignore the annoyance.

• Be discreet. No one ever likes to find out precisely how they are annoying to others. Thus, you must put a real premium on communicating effectively. In this case, that means first be discreet. You talk to them in a private location -- face-to-face to show respect and reduce the chance of miscommunication.

• Be specific. You must use real facts and incidents, days, times, etc. -- the vaguer you are, the more you create the likelihood they will discount what you are trying to say.

• Be positive. Share things about them that are worth lauding and share things that indicate your imperfections, too.

*Due to the nature of this article, we have excluded the last names of our sources to protect them from the wrath of their co-workers.

Original here

Be a More Efficient Digital Photographer

These handy tips help you spend more time taking photos and less time working on the computer.

Dave Johnson

Maybe you love working with images on your PC--but if so, you're probably an exception rather than the rule. Most people I know would rather be taking pictures than fiddling with them in an image editor.

This week I've got a few tips for working faster and more efficiently with your digital photos, so you can get away from the monitor and spend more time snapping pictures.

Use a Memory Card Reader

The first accessory I recommend after buying a digital camera is a memory card reader--assuming your computer doesn't already have one built in. Rather than using the USB connection cable that came with your camera, pop out the memory card and insert it in the card reader. You will avoid running down your camera batteries while transferring your photos to the PC, and you can insert another memory card into your camera and go take more pictures while the first card is busy.

Make Your PC Photoshop Friendly

You don't need a top of the line, quad-core computer with gobs of memory to edit your photos (though it certainly doesn't hurt). Even an older computer can run a program like Adobe Photoshop Elements just fine. Just be sure to prepare your computer. Defragment your hard disks regularly; once a month is a good interval. To do that, open My Computer and right-click your hard drive. Choose Properties, select the Tools tab, and run Defrag.

There are a few things you can do in Photoshop Elements, as well. Choose Edit, Preferences, General from the menu and click Performance. If you have 2GB or more of memory, allocate at least 1GB to Photoshop. Also, if you have a second internal hard drive, designate it as your primary scratch drive, so Photoshop won't try to store temporary editing information on the same drive that Windows is using for system operations.

Tag and Organize

If you spend more time digging around folders on your hard drive looking for photos than you do editing or sharing them, it's long past time for you to tag (or keyword) them. Try a free photo organizer like Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery.

To learn more about tagging your photo collection, read "Organize Your Photos."

Rotate as You Go

If you've been collecting digital photos for more than a short while, you probably have a lot of images that are turned sideways, usually because the camera was rotated to the vertical "portrait" position. Many cameras automatically correct this problem, but if yours doesn't, use the Rotate button in Windows' photo viewer to fix your photos as you review them on the PC.

Many folks are reluctant to do this, thinking it reduces the image's quality, but that's usually not the case. As long as you're rotating a picture in a standard resolution (such as from a digital camera), the rotation is "lossless"--it doesn't affect photo quality at all. If you try to rotate a nonstandard image (such as one you've already cropped to an unusual size), you can have some minor image compression when the rotated photo is resaved.

Upload in Batches

I recently watched my mom upload photos to Yahoo's online photo sharing site, Flickr--one image at a time.

There's no need to waste your time like that. Most photo sharing sites make it easy to upload photos in batches these days. Flickr, for example, has the superb Flickr Uploadr, which makes sending images to the Web site as easy as drag and drop. And Windows Live Photo Gallery lets you select images directly from your PC's photo collection and post them in bulk to sites like Flickr or Windows Live Spaces.

How Do You Save Time?

Do you have handy tips for shooting, organizing, editing, and sharing photos faster or more efficiently? Send them to me, and I'll publish them in a column of reader-submitted tips soon.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique. Every month, the best of the weekly winners gets a prize valued at between $15 and $50.

Here's how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don't forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

Click for full image.

This week's Hot Pic: "Uncooperative Tree Frog," by Jeff Kraus, Orlando, Florida

Jeff says that he photographed this tree frog near his house with a Canon 30D. "He was remarkably adept at turning to face away from me every time I tripped the shutter."

Click for full image.

This Week's Runner-Up: "There's a Moon in the House," by Jeff Gzyl, Lawrenceville, Georgia

Jeff writes: "I was taking shots of the Tybee Lighthouse with my Canon Digital Rebel, mounted on a tripod. I had a star effect filter connected to the end of lens. When I noticed the proximity of the moon, I recomposed the shot and got one of the light beams to point directly at the moon."

See all the Hot Pic of the Week photos online.

Have a digital photo question? Send me your comments, questions, and suggestions about the newsletter itself. And be sure to sign up to have the Digital Focus Newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

Original here

The Skinny on Global Body Images

America’s on a yo-yo diet and it’s ugly. It seems there isn’t much of a happy medium between all-you-can-eat buffet lovers with bursting bellies and image-obsessed scale jumpers who dip leaves into a drop of balsamic vinegar and call it a meal.

We are an obese nation with a high rate of eating disorders. Our schizophrenia hit home the other week when two teachers at my son’s daycare, weighing in for an employee “biggest loser” competition modeled after the reality television show, cooed over his ample thighs and told me they hope I have a “fat little baby girl” one day.

We’re confused, we’re too fat, and we’re too image-obsessed. We’ve got it all wrong, so I decided to look into what is going on in other regions of the world—from Tonga to Toulouse, France. There are some inspirational examples, and some scary ones, too.

Spain—Power to the Pear-Shaped
The Spanish government recently measured the bodies of more than 10,000 women to help create new guidelines for the clothing industry. The government is trying to promote a healthy body image and recalibrate current sizes, which are based on pre-1975 models. According to a WeNews story, the study concluded “that Spanish women come in three basic shapes—hourglass, pear, and barrel—which consumer advocates say should serve as a more accurate base for sizing.” It’s not rocket science, but it’s a step in the right direction.

France—Crack Down on Skinny
The French parliament is working on a bill that would levy fines and possible prison sentences on those who encourage “extreme thinness.” Wonder what the French prisons will look like if that bill comes to fruition …

Tonga—Size XXL Rules
Being fat is a status symbol in Tonga (an archipelago in the South Pacific) where reports show that more than 90 percent of the people are overweight. Tonga is starting to advertise itself to the larger world as a place where plus-size travelers can come to feel skinny.

Nigeria—Fattening Rooms
According to BBC News, rich Nigerians sometimes pay to visit “fattening rooms” to pack on the pounds. The news report describes a fattening room in the city of Calabar as a place where patrons can eat, sleep, and—well, that’s about it.

Mauritania—Wife-Plumping Farms
Although the trend of force-feeding young Mauritanian girls is on the decline, a BBC News report says about 11 percent of young girls there are still force fed in order to catch a husband. Says the director of a fat farm: “When they are small they don’t understand, but when they grow up, they are fat and beautiful. They are proud and show off their good size to make men dribble. Don’t you think that’s good?”

Italy—Arrivederci to Emaciated Models
The Italian government has helped push guidelines on the age and weight of models. There was initially some resistance among Milanese fashion houses, but they eventually realized that beauty is broader than bones.

New Zealand—Fat Immigrants Not Welcome
According to the New Zealand Press Association, an Englishman with a body mass index of forty-two was denied entrance by immigration officials. He didn’t pass the government’s new fat test.

Hollywood—That Foreign Land
Jennifer Love Hewitt, after being photographed in a bikini and scrutinized for her non-anorexic curves, blogged: “A size 2 is not fat! Nor will it ever be. And being a size 0 doesn’t make you beautiful. I love my body. … To all girls with butts, boobs, hips and a waist, put on a bikini—put it on and stay strong.”

Original here